Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chocolate Phantoms

These cookies are definitely on the rich dark side of chocolate.  I bought some specialty chocolate that was 70% cocoa and used it in this recipe, so these are very intense.    This recipe has its good and its bad, however there is no mistaking the great chocolatey taste.  I would say that these are as close as you are going to get to actual fudge in the form of a cookie.

The down side of these is that they only last for a few days.  Also, since the batter is made with very little butter, it sets up very fast and gets hard to deal with near the end of the baking session.  It actually turns into a hard fudge consistency. The recipe states to use a heaping teaspoon for the dough, yet the macadamias are left whole in the batter which makes that size difficult.  Chopping the nuts into quarters would make things easier. The up side is that due to their richness, they go a long way.  Also, they are less difficult to make than fudge.  This recipe makes about 5 dz  ( 1 1/2 inch) cookies.

As a side note, Easy Foodsmith has been kind enough to pass the "blog on Fire Award" to me.  If you are wondering about this blog, let me fill you in on a typical dinner at her place: pom limeade, saffron chicken tikka, chickpea salad with pomegranate and twisted potato bread.  Lastly, a slice of chocolate banana zebra cake for dessert!  While you probably cannot eat there, you sure can find some great recipes to prepare and enjoy at your house.  So stop in and visit Easy Foodsmith .

Chocolate Phantoms
adapted from Rose's Christmas Cookies

8 oz of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate bars
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate bars, chopped
1 1/2 cups unsalted macadamia nuts
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs unsalted butter
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbs flour
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees,  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.  Set aside. Prepare a double boiler with water and place over medium heat.  Fill the top section with the chocolate bar pieces and the butter.  Stir until both the butter and chocolate are melted and blended.  Remove the bowl from the heat.

Fill another bowl with the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract.  Beat for about 15 seconds until it is a creamy consistency.  Slowly pour the melted chocolate into the batter and beat.  Once all the ingredients are well blended, fold in the sifted ingredients.  Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop batter by heaping teaspoons onto baking sheet measuring about 1 inch wide.  Also, they should be and mounded as high as possible and placed about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Place in oven and bake for 6 minutes.  Rotate pans (top to bottom, front to back) and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes.

They will come out of the oven very soft and have to cool completely on the pans.  Remove from pans and serve.
                        **LAST YEAR: Inside Out Burgers**

Monday, February 27, 2012

Maui Pine Cream Pie

I recently went to a luncheon and started thinking about the different things that people brought.  Yes, we all should be happy that everyone brought something, but the buying a baked good from a grocery store always puzzles me.  I never see anyone bringing in McDonalds to pot lucks and to me both acts are equal to the same thing.  How do people arrive at McDonalds not being acceptable for the main course, but a grocery store cake is for the dessert? Different thoughts I guess.

The sad thing is that I heard someone state at how bad the store made cake tasted compared to the homemade.

Now, the question is if you do not bake or cook, what would be good to bring?  I would probably bring non food items such as plates, napkins or cups. They are always in need of those at pot lucks.

Anyway, onto the details on this recipe.  This is a pineapple cream pie with macadamia nuts.  The bottom is a cream cheese layer and the top is pineapple custard.  You cannot see the distinct layers, I think it is due to the colors of both layers being so close in hue.  The filling is a unique blend and the crust has lemon zest and finely chopped macadamia nuts which gave it a extra flavor.  The topping is whipped cream with sugar zest and macadamia nuts sprinkled on top.

I found this pie to be a tasty blend of textures as well as flavors.  One bite gives you the delicious smooth taste of pineapple and cream cheese, yet you do get a crunch from the macadamias and a taste of real fruit from the pineapple.  Definitely a great tropical treat in my book.  This recipe is for one 9 inch pie.

Maui Pine Cream Pie
adapted from The Cooking Contest Cookbook

Ingredients/Pie Crust
1/2 cup butter flavor shortening
2 tsp lemon zest
3-4 tbs cold milk
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped macadamia nuts
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Sift together the sugar, salt and flour.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture is pea sized crumbs.  Then mix in the lemon zest and the nuts, stirring until evenly distributed.  Then add the milk, tossing together with a large fork until the mixture forms a dough.  Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly flour a flat surface and roll out dough into a circle.  The dough should extend one inch beyond the size of the edge of an upside down pie pan.  Fold up into quarters or roll dough around the rolling pin and then place in pie pan. Press dough into pan.  Fold the top edges under and flute or mold the top edge of the crust how you prefer.  Then prick the bottom with a fork to make sure the crust does not bubble when baking.

Place crust in oven and bake until done, which is about 15-20 minutes.  Crust is a golden brown when done.  Remove and let cool completely before filling.

Ingredients/Pineapple Cream Filling
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of milk
1 tbs water
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten with a fork
1 (20 oz) can of crushed pineapple juice ( in light syrup)
1/3 cup cornstarch, packed
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs butter

Drain the pineapple from its juice.  Discard the juice and measure out one cup of the pineapple and reserve the rest for the cream cheese layer.  In another bowl, stir together egg yolks and water. Then mix in the cornstarch until all is smooth. Set aside.

Fill a saucepan with milk, sugar, salt and 1 cup of the pineapple.  Stir and then place over medium heat and let cook.  Continue to stir and cook, until the mixture simmers and is right on the brink of boiling.  Turn the heat down to low and slowly pour in the egg yolk mixture, whisking the mixture at the same time ( I had some extra help for this task) . Once the egg yolk is mixed in continue to whisk and let cook.  Continue with this process until the mixture is the consistency of pudding.  Then stir in the butter and vanilla.  Once the butter is melted, remove from heat.

Pour into a heat proof bowl and cover.  Place in fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, stirring at two intervals.  I left mine in for 3 hours, so extra time does not hurt the outcome.

Ingredients/Cream Cheese Filling
1/2 cup powdered sugar
reserved pineapple ( see first paragraph under pineapple filling section)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
8 oz cream cheese (softened)

Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and beat until evenly distributed.  Cover and place in fridge while you make the topping.

1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp powdered sugar (I used more to get sprinkling consistency)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts

Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.  Set aside.  In a small bowl mix together the zest and the powdered sugar until you have the right consistency for sprinkling.

To assemble
Remove bowls from fridge.  Take the cream cheese mixture and spread it over the bottom of the pie crust.  Then cover with the pineapple custard, smoothing the top.  Then spread the whipped cream over the top.  Sprinkle the sugar zest and macadamia nuts over the top.  Cover and let chill for about 3 hours prior to serving.
              **LAST YEAR: White Chocolate Kiss Cookies**

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In Gratitude

Just a little post here to say how much I appreciate my blogger friends. In the short while I have been blogging publicly, I have come across some amazing talents as well as personalities.

All of the bloggers represent a great group of giving people. From hosting charity events to advising of nutritional benefits, the food bloggers are reaching out in several ways.  Also, I cannot forget the big hand that is always there to lift the spirit of someone or assist a newbie in their struggle to get started.

In addition, I wanted to say a special thanks to the following bloggers that have reached out to me recently:

Sonali-has recently awarded me the Liebster as well as the Versatile blogger award.  She is the host of  the blog Only Fish Recipes ,  Just the name alone tells you what this woman specializes in!  She does have a way with seafood, so pop on in and say hello.  I am sure you will find something delicious.

Starr-has recently awarded me the Versatile Blogger award.  She is the host of the blog This Misfit Baker which does have a wonderful array of tasty recipes. Her site is vegan recipes, but I found some gems on her site and I have no dietary restrictions.  I recently ran across her Cinnamon Latte Squares-yum! Drop by her blog, it will be an enjoyable visit!

Carsley- this blogger is booming with enthusiasm and her blog offers you a wonderful trip to the Caymans with detailed posts of all the festivals and activities there, not to mention her wonderful dining experiences!  The name of her blog is The Deep Dish.  I was lucky enough to win a contest on her blog and received a delicious array of baked goodies from the Islands.  I have eaten some, but they are segregated for special days, so I can savor the tropical treats for days to come!

I hope that this post makes you three feel the big hug from me, thanks again.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bleeding Heart Cakes

Well it has been some time since I used my spike pan, so I decided to pull it out for another go round.  This particular recipe has a little bit more work to it than just regular cupcakes, but I think it is well worth it.

The batter comes together with a mix of blood orange juice and zest, ground pecans, cinnamon and orange liqueur.  The inside heart is a blood orange segment that is coated in a mix of cinnamon sugar and pecans.  On top is a dusting of confectioners sugar and piped lattice icing with the flavor of blood oranges and cinnamon.

I really do like the distinctive taste of blood oranges. These little cakes definitely give you a pop of that great flavor with the orange segment cooked inside. This recipe makes a little over 1 1/2 dozen.

Bleeding Heart Cakes
by flourtrader

13 blood orange segments, pith and membrane removed
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup ground pecans (I used a blender to grind mine)
1/4 cup sugar

To prepare your filling, line a baking sheet with waxed paper.  In a shallow bowl, mix together cinnamon, pecans and sugar.  Cut each segment in half, cutting the width.  Then roll each piece in the cinnamon mixture and place on the baking sheet.  Place in fridge while the rest is prepared.

Ingredients/ Cake batter
1/2 cup orange liqueur ( I used Grand Marnier)
1/2 cup blood orange juice
2 tbs blood orange zest
1/2 cup ground pecans
3/4 cup butter, room temp
3 eggs, whites and yolks separated
2 cups sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare spike pans by greasing top edges of cavities and putting in cupcake liners, letting the spike poke through the center.

 In a medium size bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the ground nuts.  Set aside.  In another bowl, cream together the sugar, orange zest and butter.  Then beat in the egg yolks one by one.

In a small bowl stir together the orange liqueur and the orange juice.

Then fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the sugar mixture.  Mix in 1/2 of the orange liqueur and juice mixture.  Continue with the same mixing process, ending with the last third of the sifted ingredients.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Then fold the whites into the batter.  Using a scoop, fill each of the cupcake cavities with a heaping tablespoon of batter.  Then take the orange segments from the fridge and slide a piece onto the spike so it just touches the top of the batter.  Segment should be on its side rather than upright.  After all the segments are spiked, place another scoop of batter on top.  Cavity should be about 3/4 full.

Place pan in oven and bake for 12-18 minutes or until tester (poked outside of the orange segment in the center) comes out clean.  Mine took exactly 15 minutes.  Remove pan and let cool for 1 minute and then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

Ingredients/Lattice Icing
2-3 tbs blood orange juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs grated zest
1 cup powdered sugar (more for dusting)
3-4 drops of red food coloring
Stir together cinnamon and zest in a small bowl.  Sift in the confectioners sugar, then add 1 tbs orange juice and stir.  Add red food coloring and more orange juice until it reaches the desired consistency and color.  I used a squirt bottle to make the lattice, so my icing was not as thick as you would need if you piped it.

Once cupcakes are cool, dust with powdered sugar and frost, making a design on top of the cupcake with the icing.

             LAST YEAR: Boardwalk Cinnamon Rolls

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jade and Suede Cheesecake

The colors and texture of this cake conjured up the name above. A layer of brown suede topped with a layer of bright jade.  I had in my mind the idea of a chocolate mint cheesecake.  However, I did not want to do the swirl thing and I did not want one blend of chocolate and mint together.  So I decided to make a two layer. cheesecake.

Upon thinking further, I decided it would be the perfect way to use some of my mint chips I got a few months ago.  However, I did have to contemplate on how to get these two layers of distinction in a baked cheesecake.  So if you are curious as to how I did it and if you enjoy the blissful combo of mint and chocolate, read on!

Before you get there, however, I would like to give a heartfelt word of thanks to the Choc Chip Uru for giving me the award below.  She is the host of an amazing blog called Go Bake Yourself  and hails from Australia.  Even though she is a teenager, she has bounded onto the blogging scene with some very delicious and creative posts.  If you do not know her, I encourage you to stop in and introduce yourself, for this blogger is coming up the ranks very fast!

Jade and Suede Cheesecake
by flourtrader

15 chocolate mint filled sandwich cookies, crushed (I used Oreo brand)
1/4 cup melted butter

Grease a  9 inch springform pan.  In a small bowl mix crushed cookies and butter until no dry crumbs remain.  Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan and about 1 to 1 1/2 inches up the sides.  Set aside.

Ingredients/ Filling
1/3 cup mint chips
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp mint extract
4 drops green food coloring
1 cup sour cream

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and the cream cheese together until smooth.  Then add the eggs and beat again.  Once all is blended, measure out two cups of the mixture into one bowl.  This leaves about two cups remaining in the mixing bowl. Cover and place one bowl in the fridge. 

Place a small heatproof bowl over a pot of water and fill with the chocolate chips.  Put over medium heat and let water simmer.  Stir chocolate until completely melted.  Remove from heat.

Add 1/2 cup sour cream and the vanilla extract to the cream cheese mixture.  Then pour in chocolate and stir until all is well blended.  Put mixture into the prepared crust and smooth the top until even.  Cover and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

During the last 5 minutes of the chilling time, preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Then start preparing the mint layer.  Melt the 1/3 cup of mint chocolate chips in the same manner as you did the chocolate.  Remove from heat.  Take the bowl of cream cheese mixture from the refrigerator.  Add 1/2 cup of the sour cream, mint extract, food coloring and melted mint chips.  Stir until all is evenly distributed.

Remove the cheesecake from the freezer and slowly pour the mint layer over the top. Then smooth it out, making sure it is even. Place pan in oven and bake for about one hour and 25 minutes.  When done, the top of the cheesecake should no longer be shiny. Turn the oven off and leave the cake to cool inside the oven.

Once cooled, place cake in refrigerator for about 6 hours.

1/4 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 drops of mint extract
24-30 semi sweet chips

Place whipping cream, sugar and extract in a small bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.  Cut off a small corner of a plastic zip lock bag and put a piping tip in the bag, sticking out the corner.  Fill the bag with the whipped cream mixture.  Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and pipe a border of whipped cream around the edge of the cake.  Then place chocolate chips on top of each swirl of the piping.  Place the cheesecake back in the fridge to chill for another few hours.  Then you can slice and enjoy.

              **LAST YEAR:Tropical Cream Cheese Cookies**

Monday, February 20, 2012

Citrus Tri Stars

Well I definitely broke the rules on this one.  I recently got a cookie press and the directions said "not recommended for refrigerated dough".   I sat there wondering why.  Now, I can understand that if you took too long with refrigerated dough, it would become difficult to work with.  However, most of the time when I use this type of dough, I form the dough on one cookie sheet and then place the bowl back in the fridge while the one pan was cooking. So after deliberating on that, I disregarded the warning and forged ahead.

My main thoughts about making the dough is that it had to be stiffer than drop cookie dough and had to bake up with some height, unlike cut out dough. In addition, the dough could not spread like leavened cookies, they had to maintain their shape when baked.  Add ins in the dough is possible, but the particles must be small enough to go through the press.  That narrowed it down to three things, cocoa nibs, poppy seeds and milk crumbs.

I tried some of the batter with cocoa nibs and some with poppy seeds. The poppy seeds were smaller so they distributed better in the dough than the cocoa nibs.  Taste wise, I liked both of them. As far as the milk crumbs (see recipe here), it was an after thought. These cookies taste better the next day, for the lemon flavor develops more with time. This recipe makes about 5 dozen.

Citrus Tri Stars
by flourtrader

1 tbs lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice*
2 cups of flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tbs poppy seeds

Sift together the flour and the salt and set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat together shortening, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice.   The fold in sifted ingredients  Lastly, fold in poppy seeds until evenly distributed.  Cover dough and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

After chilling the dough, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two baking sheets.  Remove dough and fill cookie press according to instructions.  Cover remaining dough and place back in fridge.  Press cookie dough out onto greased cookie sheets according to manufacturers instructions.

Place cookie sheet in oven and bake for 9-12 minutes or until lightly golden on bottom and edges.  Remove and let cool for 1 minute and then transfer cookies to cooling rack.  Repeat process, greasing cookie sheets after baking each batch.

*02/26/12  a taste tester has stated that there is not enough zip of lemon flavor in this cookie, so feel free to add lemon extract in place of the juice for a stronger lemon flavor.

                                 **LAST YEAR:Brandy Alexander Pie**


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Almond Slices

I have been waiting on the arrival of a rectangle tart pan in order to make this.  Luckily it did arrive in time for this post, otherwise I would have gone to plan B.  Now plan B is for another time.

This tart has a buttery pastry base that is spread with raspberry jam and then filled with a almond egg white mixture and topped with sliced almonds.  The picture in the book looks quite different and I think it is because they used skinned almonds.  Skinned almonds does give the filling more of a honey color and there is distinction between the almond and the jam in appearance.  However, I just had regular almonds on hand, but I will be making the change next go around on this recipe.

Once you get the pastry dough in place, the rest of the recipe comes together quite quickly.  I do like the flavor of the almonds and this was an unusual treat.  The touch of raspberry amidst all that almondy goodness is a perfect match.  The almond filling, which the author calls cake, does not have the texture of cake, considering the ingredients but it is hard to explain.  However unexplainable the texture is, there is no issue explaining that I think it tastes delicious!

If you have a weakness for almonds, then I am sure you will enjoy this recipe.

Tomorrow I am out of town for some appointments and shopping at the specialty grocers to find some inspiration-so wish me luck!

Almond Slices
adapted from Perfect Afternoon Tea Recipe Book

8 oz of sweet shortcrust pastry
4 egg whites
a few drops of almond extract, I used 1/8 tsp
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 cup sugar
flour for dusting
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup raspberry jam

Grease an 11 X 7 inch shallow or tart pan.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly dust a flat surface with flour and roll out the pastry into a rectangle, about 14 x 10.  Lower the pastry into the pan.  Then press into the sides and bottom of the pan.  Cut off the excess pastry hanging over the top of the pan so all sides are even. 

Spread the jam over the bottom of the pastry.  I warmed the jam in the microwave for about 15 seconds to make it easier to spread.

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until they reach a stiff peak stage.  Then fold in the almond extract, ground almonds and sugar.  Pour mixture into pan and smooth the top, making sure that filling is even.  Then sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Place pan in oven and bake until top is firm and crisp and pastry is golden.  This should take about 30-35 minutes.  Let cool completely in pan.  Once cool, prior to slicing, you can dust with powdered sugar.
                      **LAST YEAR: PBC Doodle Cookies**

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Banana Nut and Dulce De Leche Coffeecake

I know, there is nothing here that says Valentines.  However in my defense, I have to say I had a few festive posts last week. Also me and the hubs already had a nice intimate celebration on Saturday, so even though it has not passed by on the calendar, Valentine's day has already ended for me.

This particular recipe I am very pleased with.  The cake part is fluffy and moist, bursting with banana flavor.  To add to that, there is crunchy pecan streusel on top that is finalized with a drizzling of dulce de leche.  The best way to enjoy this is served slightly warm. Cold or cool Dulce de Leche just does not have the save flavor effect on the cake as it does warmed.

Also, I wanted to give a shout out of thanks to The Purple Spoon for recently passing on the Liebster award to me.  I have been given this award a time or two but it always gives me a feeling of honor as well as happiness.  This particular blogger is involved in catering wedding events and is a specialty dessert wholesaler.  All of her talent is definitely reflected in her blogging as well.  A few of the treasures I found on her site are the Butterfinger Brownie Bars and the Lime Blackberry Meringue Cupcakes.  I am sure you are bound to find something inspiring on her site, so stop on over and meet The Purple Spoon.

Banana Nut and Dulce De Leche Coffee Cake
adapted from Southern Living

2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbs vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, softened and cut into cubes
1/4 cup of butter, softened and cut into cubes
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup of flour
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 (13.4 oz) can of Dulce de Leche

Prepare a 9X13 inch pan by greasing and lining the bottom and two long sides (with overhang) with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together 2 1/4 cups of the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Then stir in the granulated sugar until evenly distributed.   Using a pastry cutter, blend 3/4 cup of the cubed butter into the flour mixture.  Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, mashed banana, vanilla extract and sour cream together.  Then fold into flour mixture, making sure no dry streaks remain.  Do not over mix.  Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth it out so the batter is even.

In a small bowl, stir together remaining 1/2 cup of flour with the brown sugar.  Then cut in the last of the butter chunks (1/4 cup) with a pastry cutter until no dry ingredients remain.  Then blend in pecans, using clean hands or a fork.  Your mixture should resemble large clumps. Sprinkle streusel mixture evenly over batter.

Place Dulce de Leche in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat in microwave for about a minute, stopping and stirring about every 30 seconds.  Continue with that process until it reaches drizzling consistency.  I had a hard time getting it to that stage, so after about 2 minutes I just put it into a squirt bottle.  Drizzle or squirt warmed mixture on top of the streusel.

Place in oven and bake until a tester (poked into section that has no Dulce de Leche on top) comes out clean. Streusel topping should have just started to brown  Baking time is about 35-38 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool in pan 5 minutes.  Then pull cake out of pan with overlapping parchment paper and place on flat surface.  Cut quickly with a sharp knife dipped in hot water.  Knife should be cleaned and re-dipped at cutting intervals because of the sticky topping.  Serve warm. 
                 **LAST YEAR: Loca Luna's Turtle Cake**

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Auntie Mary's Cookies & A Feature

You probably have two thoughts running through your head.  One, you are wondering if the above is one cookie or three.  It is actually three.  The other is who is Auntie Mary?  Not any relation, just the originator of this recipe.  Apparently, she is a relative of someone associated with the Ladies Home Journal.

Do not let this picture fool you though.  These cookies do not have jam in them-they actually have a fudge-like filling with walnuts.  The best part about them is that the elements are equal.  This means that one bite gives you 50% cookie flavor and 50% nutty chocolate flavor.  In my book this does make the grade, so these will be added to my traditional cookies list. This recipe makes about 4 dozen. 

Also, I wanted to mention that Sofie from The German Foodie contacted me in regards to doing a feature on me and I agreed.  She is doing a series on why she follows certain blogs and picked mine to feature first, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside since there are so many wonderful blogs to choose from.  So if you are curious about the feature or if you would like to meet a special blogger who has some great tutorials on her site as well as some tasty German cuisine, be sure and pop on over to Sofie's site at The German Foodie,

Auntie Mary's Cookies
adapted from Ladies Home Journal

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
powdered sugar, for sprinkling

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

To make the dough, sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  In another bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese and both type of sugars.  Then beat in the egg and vanilla extract until blended evenly.  Fold in the dry ingredients, making sure no dry streaks remain.

Separate dough into four equal parts and wrap with plastic wrap.  Place in fridge for a minimum of  2 hours.  I left mine in the fridge to chill overnight.

After the chilling time is complete, preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two cookie sheets.

Then you are ready to make your filling!  Place chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan placed over medium heat.  Stir and cook until all chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts.  Let cool to room temperature.

Lightly dust a flat surface with flour and place 1 piece of dough in the center.  Roll dough out to a 6 X 10 inch rectangle, lifting and turning to make sure dough does not stick.  Once you reach that size, take 1/4 of the chocolate mixture and smooth it down the center of the length of the dough.  Then fold sides over.  Then transfer to cookie sheet, seam side down.  I used a spatula and a bench scraper side by side underneath to transfer the log and then flipped it over.  Repeat this process with the remaining 3 logs.  You should have two  on each cookie sheet.

Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until the dough is lightly browned.  Remove pans and transfer logs to a cooling rack.  Once completely cool, sprinkle with confectioners sugar.  Then slice each log into 12 equal portions. 
             **LAST YEAR: Roasted Cauliflower and Onions**

Friday, February 10, 2012

Great Basin Muffins

I was up in the attic the other day and I saw a bag of scented pine cones that I had bought for Christmas.  They still smelled faintly of cinnamon.  Then I began to wonder about how much pine cones are used as decorations at Christmas instead of being harvested for the nuts.

I started looking into information on pine nuts and found out that they are very difficult to harvest.  In fact, the nuts are bad by the time the pine cone has fallen.  Like the pecans, this nut was also a staple in the diet of Native American Indians hundreds of years ago.  The tribes that harvested these were located between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, originally referred to as the Great Basin.

Apparently, the Indians were on to something.  The pine nut has 20 amino acids.  In the list of the acids, eight are essential building blocks of protein.

The cake part of these muffins are flavored with lemon and honey.  Also, included inside are honey roasted pine nuts.  The topping is a honey lemon sauce sprinkled with pine nuts.  The topping should  be used only at the time of serving.  Due to its honey content, it is sticky so if you are going to store the muffins, you definitely do not want to use the sauce.  This recipe makes 1 dozen muffins.

Great Basin Muffins
by flourtrader

Ingredients/Honey Roasted Nuts
3/4 cup pine nuts
2 tbs honey
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 tsp butter
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line the bottom of a baking sheet with foil and spray with non stick spray.

Then place all ingredients, except for pine nuts, in a microwave bowl.  Microwave for 20 seconds.  Then stir and microwave for another 20 seconds.  By this time, the butter should be completely melted.  Stir until all ingredients are blended and liquid is smooth.  Then fold in the pine nuts, making sure they are completely coated.

Pour mixture onto foil and spread out so the nuts form an even layer.  Then place in oven to bake for about 5 minutes.  Remove pan and then stir the nuts.  Repeat this process 3 more times and remove from oven to let cool.  Once the nuts have cooled to room temperature, break them up so you have single separated nuts instead of clumps.  If you are having sticking issues, that is ok.  Once the nuts are broken up, cover and  place in freezer until ready to use.  This will keep them from clumping.


3/4 cup of honey roasted pine nuts
1 cup of honey yogurt
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted at room temperature
1 tbs lemon zest
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbs honey
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare your muffin tin by using non stick spray on a paper towel and then coating the top edge of the cavities.  You can either line with paper baking cups or spray the inside of the cavities with the non stick spray.

Beat together the eggs and the yogurt. Then stir in add the zest, juice and honey.  Lastly, mix in the butter until all is smooth.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix in the sugar until evenly combined.  Form a well in the center and pour in the egg mixture.  Stir until no more dry streaks remain.  Then fold in the honey roasted pine nuts until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop batter into muffin cavities, filling 3/4 full. Place pan in oven and bake until tester comes out clean, about 12-15 minutes.  Remove and transfer muffins to rack to cool.

These are ready to serve as is or store for eating at a later time.  Should you opt to have the warm honey lemon sauce on top, the recipe is below.

Ingredients/Honey Lemon Sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp corn starch
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs powdered sugar
1/4 cup pine nuts (for sprinkling)

In a saucepan placed over medium high heat, add the honey and the lemon juice.  Let come to a boil and then turn down heat. Let simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.   Remove from heat and then stir in cornstarch.  Sift 1/4 of the powdered sugar into the mixture and stir until smooth.  Continue adding the sugar in increments and stirring until it is all mixed in. Place a spoonful of the sauce on top of the muffins and sprinkle a few pine nuts over the sauce.  Another option is to serve the sauce on the side for dipping pieces of the muffin into.  You can back off the powdered sugar content if you prefer a stronger honey/lemon flavor.
                **LAST YEAR: Ricotta Pancakes**

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cupids Frozen Potion

You know, I thought that chocolate covered cherries were the favorite around Valentines.  However, since I had a hard time finding them, I am wondering if my thoughts are a little "old school"!  Anyhow, I consider them one of my favorites, so I went ahead and made this frozen treat.  Not only does it have chocolate covered cherries, the ice cream is laden with cherry brandy.   Also, I did not think that cupids potion would not look right with a plain cone, so I melted a king size Nestle crunch bar and dipped it!

I did start off with some props for this picture, but it did not come together as hoped. However, I have not given up, so they are bound to show up in another post.  This goes back to that picture in your mind vs actual-some day those two will come together identically, but not today.  Anyhow, the recipe is below and it is for 4 servings.

Cupids Frozen Potion
by flourtrader

2 egg yolks (room temp)
1 cup of whipping cream
1/3 cup of sugar
5 or more chocolate covered cherries
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs cherry brandy (I used Kirsch)
2 tbs water
pinch of salt
4 ice cream cones
2 king size Nestle crunch bars

Place your chocolate covered cherries in the freezer for about 2 hours.  You want them easy enough to chop but not runny.  Remove candies and chop.  Place in a small bowl, cover and put back in freezer.

Take your whipping cream and put in the freezer also for about 15 minutes or long enough to form an icy edge.  Remove from freezer and beat at low speed for 30 seconds.  Then cover and place in fridge.

In a medium size mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, egg yolks, water and vanilla extract.  Place bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Beat the mixture as it cooks, scraping down sides occasionally. I used a hand mixer to beat. The mixture should thicken and become very pale.

Then take mixing bowl away from heat and beat until the mixture cools.  For this process I used my big Kitchenaid mixer.   Once cool, stir in about 1/3 of the whipping cream until blended.  Then fold in the rest of the whipped cream and brandy.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and follow manufacturers instructions.  Empty ice cream into a container, cover and let freeze for 2 hours.  Then fold in the chocolate covered cherries, making sure they are evenly distributed.  Cover and return to freezer until desired consistency is met.  I froze mine overnight.

For the chocolate cones, chop the candy bars and melt in a double boiler.  Then  place a piece of wax paper on a baking sheet.  Also, clear off a place in the fridge for the sheet.  Once the candy bars are melted, dip and scoop up coating with the cone, coating the top edge.  Also make sure that you are not filling the inside.  Place upside down on wax paper and place in fridge for about 10 minutes.  To get a thick coating, you may have to dip the cones more than once. 
                           **LAST YEAR:Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake**

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kentucky Corkscrews

Well I am happy to say I did finally get my donut pan.  However, instead of getting one pan, I found a duo pack that had a pan for twist type donuts also.  Of course since I have been seeing recipes for the round ones, I thought I would be daring and try the twist type ones.

I did a lot of experimenting with the batter as well as the filling. Some of the donuts were too airy and some of the creams did not set up properly, so I can say the trash was well fed, until I landed on the right blend.

The name is derived from the fact that the shape reminds me of corkscrews and the recipe includes two things that you can easily find in Kentucky-sweet potatoes and bourbon!  The donut is baked and the batter is made with sweet potatoes and a touch of maple extract.  Then it is filled with a bourbon pastry cream and covered in cinnamon sugar. This recipe makes 4 twists.

Kentucky Corkscrews
by flourtrader

Ingredients/ Donut
1/4 cup cooked sweet potato, pureed
1/2 tsp maple extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Ingredients/Cream Filling
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs whole milk
3 tbs sugar
1 tbs cornstarch
2 egg yolks
2 tbs bourbon

1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tbs sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

To make the donuts, spray the pan with non stick spray.  Then preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Then make a well in the center.  Set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil and extract and beat until there is a light foam on top.

Pour the egg batter into the dry ingredients and stir all together until no dry streaks remain.  Then fold in the sweet potato.

Then fill half of each donut cavity with the batter.  Then place in oven and bake until done, about 10-12 minutes.  Tops will spring back lightly when touched.  Remove from oven and invert donuts on a rack to cool.

To make the pastry cream, put milk in a saucepan and let come to a simmer.  Remove from heat.  Then take another bowl and whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until blended.  Take the cornstarch and sift it into the batter.  Then whisk the batter again, making sure the cornstarch is evenly distributed.

Add the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk in three increments, whisking for about 30 seconds after each addition.  Then place over medium heat, continuing to whisk constantly.  Once mixture thickens and comes to a boil, remove from heat.  Then whisk in the bourbon while the cream is still warm. Let cool for about 10 minutes before filling donuts.

For assembly, take a long knife and a cut a slit in the donut all the way through or take a core out of the donut half way down on each end.  Either way is a personal preference.  Then take a piping bag with a large pastry tip and fill with cream.  Stick tip into one end of donut and fill halfway with cream.  Then repeat on other end.  Continue this process for all of the donuts.

For the topping, mix together the cinnamon and sugar.  Then brush the top and sides of the donuts and sprinkle sugar on top and sides.  Then turn and brush the bottom with butter and do the same.  Now you are ready to enjoy some donuts!
                     **Last Year: Avocado Egg Rolls**

Friday, February 3, 2012

Coconut Macaroon Brownies

I had contemplated doing a post of a bundt cake with a tunnel of coconut, but when I saw the title of this recipe-the bundt idea disappeared.  When I first read the instructions, I thought that the process with the macaroon topping would make it appear as an inside layer.  However, once I saw the how the top got toasty when baking-I was pleasantly surprised.  I would much rather have the toastiness on top than the chewy in the middle.  Also, one of the biggest things I noticed about the ingredient list was that it took a whopping 6 whole eggs and 6 egg whites.

The brownie base falls into the middle category of cakey and fudgey.  The top part is good enough to eat on its own, but is the perfect compliment to the brownie.  This recipe is one that I will repeat. Now my mind is toying with drizzling it with chocolate or including chopped almonds for the next batch. 

Also, I was recently given the Liebster Award from Diane at The Hidden Pantry and I wanted to thank her for passing it along. Her blog does have a lot to offer.  Not only does she have some great recipe posts (like a pineapple walnut cheese ball) she has some very helpful information and tips. There is one post in which she deciphers produce codes indicating which is organic,conventional or gmo and another one with advice on the best utensils to start building your kitchenware. But I will not ramble on, pop on over to Diane's blog to see for yourself at The Hidden Pantry.

Coconut Macaroon Brownies
adapted from The Dessert Bible

Ingredients/Brownie Base
1 cup flour
2 tbs cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 large eggs, room temp

Ingredients/Macaroon Layer
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups unsweetened or desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
6 large egg whites, room temp
3 tbs butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup light corn syrup

Grease a 9X13 inch pan or line the pan with foil.

To make the brownie layer, prepare a double boiler with water and place over medium heat.  Put butter and chocolate in top pan to melt.  Stir mixture about every 3 minutes until it all is melted and smooth.  Remove pan and set aside.

in another bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla together until completely blended.  Then pour in the chocolate mixture in three increments, whisking after each addition.  Stir in the salt.  Add the flour, cocoa powder and sugar and mix with a wooden spoon until batter is thick and smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the topping, whisk the egg whites until a little froth forms.  Then combine the corn syrup, vanilla and butter into the egg whites. Mix in the salt and then the sugar.  Once all is combined fold in the coconut until evenly distributed.

Using a spoon, drop large scoops of macaroon mixture onto batter.  The scoop should be about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons and the mixture should be placed in 3 rows of 5 on top of the brownie batter.  Then take a knife and cut an "X" into each mound.  This will help each mound bake and bond together to cover the top of the brownie batter.

The recipe states bake in oven for about 40 minutes, however I left mine in for about 50 minutes. Getting the center cooked in such a large pan is tricky for me when it comes to bars.  Brownies are done when the center is firm to the touch.  Let brownies cool completely in pan placed on a rack.
              **LAST YEAR: Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes**

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Blood Orange Chocolate Cupcakes

This recipe I have had for awhile, but I hesitated to make it because of the strange ingredients.  Two ingredients that I had never used in cupcakes was olive oil and coconut milk.  I was thinking that the texture might be greasy due to the olive oil or the flavor would be off.

How wrong I was!  The texture fell into that "crumb clump" category of moistness.  This is when you have pieces of the cake and you can take a fork and clump them together and they will remain in one clump.  Also, there was no strannge flavor due to the olive oil and the coconut milk did not impart any flavor either.  All you taste is the rich chocolate and notes of orange in the cake and then more tangy orange from the frosting.

The only issue I had was that I used some new cupcake wrappers that were sturdy enough to be baked without putting them in a tin.  However, the wrappers separated from some of the cupcakes.  Not sure if it was the wrappers or the cake, but this is the first time I had that issue.  I will probably make these again but go back to the regular paper liners.

Blood Orange Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Loveandoliveoil 

1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs almond meal
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp blood orange zest
1/3 cup olive oil

3 tbs blood orange juice
1 tsp blood orange zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbs heavy cream (optional)
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the top edges of muffin cavities and then line cavities with paper liners.

In a medium size bowl, beat coconut milk until smooth.  Add the vanilla extract, sugar, olive oil and zest.  Then beat at a low speed until all is blended.  Set aside.

Then you will need another bowl for the dry ingredients.  Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, almond meal, baking powder and baking soda.  Then make a well in the center and pour in the coconut milk mixture.  Stir with a wooden spoon until no dry streaks remain.

Using a ice cream scoop, fill each of the 12  muffin cavities with about 3 tbs of batter.  They should not exceed the 2/3 mark.  The batter does raise a lot in baking, even though the cups do not look that full of batter.

Bake about 18-20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Remove pan and let cupcakes cool about 5 minutes and then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

To make the frosting, cream the butter with a mixer on medium speed.  Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat for 1 minute.  Then beat in the zest, vanilla and orange juice.  Continue to add powdered sugar in half cup increments and beat until desired consistency is met.  You may need less sugar or some cream, depending on your preference.
           **LAST YEAR: Toffee Temptations**